Response by Stephen Salmore
The recent numbers from the PublicMind poll are a good reading of where the race stands as of now. But there are six months to go before the election. The two factors that will probably decide this election are the economy and the war in Iraq. If both of these go in Bush’s direction, he will probably win. If both go in Kerry's direction, then Kerry becomes a much more serious challenger, and maybe even the favorite. But if the results are mixed, the election becomes harder to predict. And, at the present time, the results seem likely to be mixed.
By most indicators, the economy is doing well and will continue to do well through the rest of the year. The situation with the economy is good. The situation in Iraq is cloudy. There may be major problems for Bush arising from the Iraq war. This can change very quickly, as it has in the last few months, and it's difficult to predict where the war will be in October and November. In fact, the outcome of the election may be determined by events beyond the control of either candidate.
Comment by Fairleigh Dickinson University Research Professor of Political Science, Stephen Salmore (Ph.D., Princeton University). Steve specializes in both national and New Jersey politics and presently operates Raritan Associates, Inc. He is co-author of Parties, Elections and Campaigns and New Jersey Government and Politics. Dr. Stephen Salmore can be reached at 973-292-3633.